Name of Object:

Lamp

Location:

Madrid, Spain

Holding Museum:

National Archaeological Museum

 About National Archaeological Museum, Madrid

Date of Object:

Hegira 705 / AD 1305

Museum Inventory Number:

50519

Material(s) / Technique(s):

Bronze; casting.

Dimensions:

Total height 230 cm, height of truncated pyramid 54 cm, diameter 79 cm

Period / Dynasty:

Nasrid

Provenance:

Mosque of the Alhambra, Granada, Spain.

Description:

Bronze lamp consisting of various elements supported by a central rod. First, four spherical parts arranged in ascending order of size with a central fretwork border and naskhi inscription. Next, an eight-sided prismatic element with vegetal fretwork decoration. The lamp is completed by a truncated pyramid in the shape of a four-sided bell, decorated with plant motifs and two inscribed cartouches, one at the top and one at the bottom, with the emblem of Muhammad III: 'There is no conqueror but God. The Most Exalted'. There is another inscription in the bronze on the border, with a series and blessings and titles, as well as the date of manufacture.
There is a convincing hypothesis as to the placement of the holders for the lights: the lamp arrived at the Museum with its hinged arms badly damaged; these arms would open out around the truncated pyramid section into a circle, some of which has survived. There were two arms per side, making a total of 16 arms and between 48 and 64 glasses that produced light without being obscured by the body of the object.
We know that the Royal Alhambra Mosque was constructed at the behest of Muhammad III, and therefore the lamp would have hung in the central nave before the mihrab (prayer niche), the appropriate place for an object bearing the sovereign's emblem. It is logical to assume that the founding sovereign would have also provided the fixtures.

View Short Description

A masterpiece of Andalusian metalwork for the exquisite fretwork decoration on the body, this lamp was commissioned by Muhammad III for the mosque in the Alhambra, according to its inscription. The body still bears the hooks for the arms that would have held the glass bowls for the lights.

Original Owner:

Following the conquest of Granada in AH 898 / AD 1492, the lamp was removed from its fixing and taken to Oran. Eventually it became part of the collection of Cardinal Cisneros, who deposited it with San Ildefonso College in Alcala de Henares, from where it passed to the University

How date and origin were established:

The lower edge of the lamp bears a naskhi inscription with the year 705 / 1305.

How Object was obtained:

The piece was assigned to the National Archaeological Museum as part of the organisation of the State collection on 20 March 1868.

How provenance was established:

Despite the damage to the lower part of the lamp, the titles that appear in the inscription around the edge allow us to attribute it to Muhammad III (r. 702–9 / 1302–9), who would have commissioned it for the Alhambra mosque.

Selected bibliography:

Amador de los Ríos, R., “Lámpara de Abu 'Abdil-lah Mohammad III de Granada, Apellidada Vulgarmente Lámpara de Orán, y Custodiada Hoy en el Museo Arqueológico Nacional”, Museo Español de Antigüedades,Vol. II, Madrid, 1876, pp.466–91.
Fernández Puertas, A., “Tipología de Lámparas de Bronce de al-Andalus y el Magreb”, in Miscelánea de Estudios árabes y Hebraicos. Sección árabe-Islam, 48, Granada, 1999, pp.379–92.
Lévi-Provençal, E., Inscriptions Arabes d'Espagne, Paris, 1931, p.185, no. 192.
Zozaya, J., “Lámpara”, in Arte Islámico en Granada. Propuesta para un Museo de la Alhambra,Granada, 1995, p.434, no. 187.

Citation of this web page:

Ángela Franco "Lamp" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2019. http://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;es;Mus01;11;en

Prepared by: Ángela Franco
Copyedited by: Rosalía Aller
Translation by: Laurence Nunny
Translation copyedited by: Monica Allen


MWNF Working Number: SP 20